Christchurch exorcisms – Paddy Gower has issues

Christchurch exorcisms

Fr Michael Mary, the leader of the ‘Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer,’ a conservative Latin Rite Catholic group in Christchurch, denies accusations that his group performed exorcisms on children.

He clarified that sprinkling Holy Water around a child does not constitute an exorcism.

The controversy surrounding the ‘Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer’, also known as the Transalpine Redemptorists, emerged after TV3’s programme ‘Paddy Gower Has Issues’ aired a segment Wednesday night.

The programme claimed that the group had performed exorcisms on children, and one child was allegedly told the Devil possessed them.

It was also reported that the group conducted exorcisms on seven individuals, with one person undergoing multiple lengthy sessions, some lasting for several hours, and one exorcism purportedly spanning three consecutive days.

There were also claims that individuals were restrained during these rituals.

Bishop Steve Lowe, President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, acknowledges that exorcisms occasionally occur in New Zealand but said it is very unusual for people to be restrained.

Lowe describes the act of binding people during an exorcism as ‘cinematic.’

Drawing from Church data, Gower stated that the official Catholic Church sanctioned 12 exorcisms over the past five years. Six of these were authorised for Auckland and Hamilton dioceses, though not all occurred.

An equal number were sanctioned in the Christchurch diocese.

In a YouTube video, Michael Mary stated that then Bishop Paul Martin of Christchurch permitted two exorcisms; both occurred, and he denies any illicit use of the permission.

Catholic community reaction

CathNews received feedback from a number of concerned Catholics regarding the ‘Paddy Gower Has Issues’ segments.

One correspondent accuses Gower and investigative journalist Michael Morah of trivialising a very serious matter and accusing the reporting as lacking maturity.

“A really nuanced topic is treated interspersed with getting fried chips!

“The juxtaposition shows the true level of New Zealand journalism,’ said one.

“The country needs an injection of journalistic maturity,’ another wrote.

The Church’s perceived silence also drew attention.

“I think we can reasonably expect some response or even engagement from an official church spokesperson,’ said another.

“The rather bizarre nature of these reported events, surely the Church must have something to say.

“It certainly needs to be more transparent and engage more fully.

“It’s not the 1950s,’ yet another said.

“It’s not apt for the Church to remain silent. We, the regular Catholics, bear the brunt of public scrutiny.”

A person said over the phone that concerns arose on  Thursday while chatting after Mass about the medical and psychological evidence the bishop considered before granting permission for these practices.

“Tying up people, stabbing them with a crucifix is extreme.

“People have their dignity.

“With the Church so much in the spotlight, you’d think it would have something to say,” they said.

A communications specialist expressed astonishment at the Church’s seeming detachment and weak recent communication strategies.

“It feels like the Catholic Church leans heavily on Peter Lineham for its representation,” he said.

Professor Peter Lineham has for many years written and lectured extensively on the religious history of New Zealand. Now retired, he is a member of the Anglican and Baptist Church.

“It would be better if there were a Catholic someone attached to the community.

“These days, the perception of the Church is that the church leadership seems more interested in being spiritual and holy. They’re good ideals but are not sufficient. The Church also needs to engage in the here and now.

“The bishop at least needs to explain what training and expertise these priests have to perform exorcisms.

“The Church lacks engagement at critical times” said the communications specialist.

The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer

The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer entered the Christchurch diocese in 2009.

Upon their arrival, Bishop Barry Jones cautioned Catholics that the group’s services lacked authorisation and weren’t in communion with the Pope.

In 2012, Pope Benedict granted his approval and the group continues to be responsible in the diocese for the Latin Mass chaplaincy.

However, in an expression of lex orandi, lex credendi – how we pray reflects what we believe – Pope Francis is not disposed to the belief behind the old Latin Rite.

In February 2023, Francis admonished bishops who permitted the Latin Mass in their dioceses without Vatican consent, urging them to obtain retrospective authorisation.

Following up on correspondence from a reader, CathNews sought clarification from the Catholic Bishops Conference on the practice of the traditional Latin Rite Mass and whether the required authorisations had been applied for.



  • Paddy Gower has Issues (TV3)
  • CathNews NZ
  • Stuff
  • Transalpine Redemptorists
  • Earlier this article said that Peter Lineham is involved with the Charismatic Movement and the Pentecostal Church. In making this statement, CathNews used a reference from the National Library. (Reference dated 27 July, 2023).

    Peter Lineham has been in touch, objecting to our initial reference. He accused CathNews of making a false statement about him and told us to do some research.

    By referencing the National Library, we thought we were using an authoritative source; however, in light of his correspondence, we wish to apologise to Peter for what was a genuine mistake and thank him for pointing out the error.

Additional reading

News category: New Zealand, Palmerston, Top Story.

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